The Five Billion Person Party

Notes of a wandering American soccer fan

Archive for the ‘Italy’ Category

So if Beckham = Brad Pitt…

Posted by steigs on February 5, 2009

So the New York Times Goal blog has identified a pop culture equivalent of the Galaxy/Beckham/AC Milan situation.  Beckham = Brad Pitt.  The Galaxy = Jennifer Aniston.  AC Milan = Angelina Jolie.

It reads like the tabloid coverage of a celebrity relationship breakup. Think Jennifer Aniston-Brad Pitt-Angelina Jolie. And now, the lawyers are involved.

Representatives of David Beckham (Pitt in this scenario) are reportedly in talks with the L.A. Galaxy (Aniston) to extend the midfielder’s loan deal at A.C. Milan (the sexy and sultry Jolie, for the purposes of this metaphor). So says Ms. Jolie, er, Milan’s vice president, Adriano Galliani.

Well, I suppose Beckham is the only soccer player who is featured in US Weekly.  But I wonder what this means if it holds true in the future.  Will AC Milan and Beckham go on to bring in a rag-tag group of young footballing orphans from around the globe?  Will the Galaxy go through a series of high-profile failed “designate player” replacements for Beckham?  Does this make Cobi Jones the equivalent of a former Friends cast member like Matthew Perry?

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Posted in Italy, US | Leave a Comment »

Life Imitates Dream Team, Juventus edition

Posted by steigs on September 2, 2008

Player locking team president in a toilet?

Tiago is desperate to play in the Champions League and was upset at the Bianconeri president for attempting to push him toward Everton and Monaco who are not involved in Europe’s premier competition. Thus, Tiago locked Cobolli in the washroom as a sort of revenge. Rumours suggest that he was locked inside for over an hour before Del Piero heard the patron.

That’s one way to get a transfer, worthy of Harchester.  In typical fashion, who was it who came to the Juve President’s rescue? 

“In any case, Alessandro Del Piero responded to the noise I made banging on the door and offered to break it down.”

Typical Del Piero, always scoring late!

Posted in Italy, Life imitates "Dream Team" | Leave a Comment »

DC United were Inter Milan?

Posted by steigs on August 5, 2008

In response to my last post, someone pointed out that DC United has already been imitating a team from Milan — Inter, not AC Milan.  Inter has rolled through Serie A in recent years without ever making a serious run at the Champions League.  Sound familiar, other fans of the back-to-back Supporters Shield winning DC United?

We shook up our team, letting former MVP Gomez go etc.  Inter, on the other hand, brought in the “Special One.”  Maybe Mourinho will drive an Inter team with much the same core deep into the Champions League.  I suppose we could have tried that route — but I doubt United was ready to make him the first “designated manager.”

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The Euro 2008 team bus slogans!

Posted by steigs on May 22, 2008

They ran a contest for fans of the various teams at EURO 2008 to pick a slogan to paint on their team’s bus, in their native language and in English.  (Something similar happened at the 2006 World Cup.)  The results are here.  And the buses themselves, in full team color glory, are here.  (Lot of red and white teams at the tourney, it appears.)

Some slogans are pretty obvious.  The Swiss went with: Final destination: Vienna.  (That’s where the championship game will be held.)  The Germans have: Germany – one team – one purpose.

Others seem more revealing.  The French appear interested in making friends: Live together, celebrate together.  Same with the Poles: …because only sport and good fun matter.  Turkey plays the passion card: Can this bus contain the passion of Turkey?

The Italians sound a bit surreal to me:  The sky is always bluer.

But my favorite is the slogan for Spain.  It’s tinged with resignation — unlike ESPN’s ad campaign, they expect their team to disappoint them:  Whatever happens, SPAIN FOREVER.  Now that’s true fandom — whatever happens, we’re for our team. 

Posted in Euros, Germany, Italy, Spain | Leave a Comment »

The Monday Update — High and Low

Posted by steigs on May 12, 2008

Slavia do toho, indeed!  On the verge of winning the Czech league!  Just got to beat thirteenth place Jablonic next weekend. 

Alas, poor Parma.  On the verge of relegation from Serie A.  Time to sack the coach!  Heck, I managed to finish 14th with my virtual Parma in Championship Manager.  I’m sure I’ll do better next season — I signed Jozy Altidore.  Still, they’ve fallen from when I saw them.

Posted in Czech, Games, Italy | Leave a Comment »

Watching Italy Fail

Posted by steigs on May 2, 2008

Euro 2008 is around the corner.  (Woo-hoo!  Can’t wait!)  As we assess who might be ready to win the tourney, it’s worth remembering that things can change fast in the world of top-level international soccer, where national teams are all-star collections that don’t play together nearly as regularly as club side. 

As World Cup champions, Italy are an obvious Euro 2008 favorite.  But two years can be a long time in international soccer.  In fact, I was at the Euro 2004 game where Italy was eliminated — at the group stage!  It’s a thin line between triumph and tragedy in these tourneys.  What’s it like to watch Italy fail?  In the rain?  With Bulgarians?  Read on after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Euros, Italy | 1 Comment »

“Expensive, unwanted, and unloved”

Posted by steigs on April 3, 2008

From Italy, comes news that Juventus, the “gray lady” of Serie A, is preparing to build a new stadium.  This might be part of the financial arms race we see in England (as well as American sports) — gotta find a way to generate more revenue, with more seating and luxury boxes etc.  Juve is in third in the league at the moment, cruising towards a return to the Champions League, a sign that it may be moving past the scandals of recent years.

But I don’t think it’s just about money.  The current Stadio delle Alpi is no jewel, hardly the temple of football that the San Siro represents.  “Expensive, unwanted, and unloved” is how the Rough Guide describes it.  I was lucky enough to see a game there back in 2000, when Zidane ruled the Juve midfield.  That tale after the jump: Read the rest of this entry »

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Parma

Posted by steigs on March 4, 2008

As I consider what team next to take on in my “virtual managing” career, I’m inclined to take a run at Serie A with Parma.  Who?  Huh?  One of the also-rans these days, they had a pretty nice stretch in the 90s before their patron had some, well, Enron-like finanical issues.  I watched some of their loss to Roma this weekend.  Not what they used to be…

 But I really enjoyed my stop there back in 2000, a city that gave us Parmigiano cheese and, mmmm, prosciutto di Parma.  Maybe I’m the guy to turn them around.  At least in a virtual sense…

 For more on my stop in Parma, read on after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Maldini hits 1000

Posted by steigs on February 20, 2008

As I Dislike Your Favorite Team reminded me, Paulo Maldini just played game number 1000.  I missed the Parma game this weekend when he hit the mark but Big Blue Monkey reports:

I watched his 1000th game against Parma, and the game undeniably changed when he stepped on the pitch as a second half substitute. There was Maldini, making overlapping runs, and serving dangerous crosses into the box. By all rights, he should have had two assists in his 15 minutes of play.

Sure, he’s been one of the all-time great defenders.  As if that weren’t enough, he’s also looks like he should be on the cover of a romance novel.  I, for one, have heard my wife sigh about his “eyes” on more than one occasion as we watch AC Milan.  Hence his featured role in AC Milan’s recent calendar with Dolce & Gabbana.  Like this one.  The story goes that when Giorgio Armani visited the 1994 Italian World Cup team, as part of providing their travelling suits, he proclaimed that he’d love to have Maldini on the runway for his collections.

Maldini reportedly has a home in Miami but, aside from the fact that Miami no longer has an MLS team, don’t get your hopes about him doing a cameo desginated player year or two over here as some Italian Beckham.  He’s a one club guy — AC Milan from his teenage playing days until his upcoming retirement.

All the more reason I consider myself lucky to have seen him play in person back in late 2000 at the San Siro, during a Champions League match-up with Galatasaray.   Here’s what I wrote about it back then.  Watch him while you can!

As the second half wears on, I become fascinated with the play of the AC Milan left back, Paulo Maldini, who is positioned directly in front of me.  Maldini is a legend, a regular on the Italian national team for more than a decade, often described as the best at his position in the world.  It seems to me that Galatasaray should simply give up attacking on Maldini=s side of the field, the way NFL teams sometimes don=t throw passes in the direction of all-star cornerbacks.  They cannot get the ball past him.  If a player dribbles forward towards him, Maldini deftly takes it from him.  If they try a pass in his area, then he intercepts it.  As if such peerless defensive technique is not enough, Maldini is graceful with ball too.  At one point he brings it upfield, fakes out two Galatasaray players with ease, before making a long pass to a forward.  Late in the first half he had bounced a shot off the bar.

Posted in Champions League, Italy | 1 Comment »

Roma Holiday

Posted by steigs on February 19, 2008

The Champions League is starting again with the good stuff — the knock-out rounds.  One team I’m rooting for is Roma.  Partly this is because they’re matched with Real Madrid.  (Boo!  Hiss!)  But it’s also because I’ve developed a fondness for Totti and the boys from Rome.  They have taken advantage of the nuclear penalty on Juventus (down you go!) to become regulars in the Champions League and often play an attractive game. 

 Oh, and M. and I had a great time when we went to see them in Rome a few years back, even if the game was on the dull side.  To learn more about Roma, the cult of Totti, the “flying donkeys,” and what it’s like to watch a game at an old Olympic stadium with a tribute to Mussolini out front, read on after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Champions League, Italy | Leave a Comment »